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NBC @ TCA: ‘The Walking Dead’ an ‘anomaly’, broadcast TV is “bastard child”

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5 years ago
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5 years ago
Alijah Purdy
  • Guest2014
    Nov 15th, 2011

    A very lively session NBC president Bob Greenblatt had with the TV Critics Association:  

    NBC’s ratings aren’t down? The Walking Dead is an “anomaly”?
    And broadcast is the “bastard child” of the TV industry?

    After declining to offer a press conference during the broadcast
    upfronts last May (following its spring ratings dive), NBC
    programming executives collectively faced the press for the first
    time since January during the Television Critics Association press
    tour in Beverly Hills on Saturday, with executives defending the
    network’s ratings performance.

    NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt spoke up for broadcast
    TV against comparisons to cable shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead,
    which was fall’s highest rated show among cable and broadcast.

    “The bastard child is now broadcast television,” he says. “Our
    peers in the industry don’t look at the work we do. They just look
    at the shiny new bulb in the cable world … it’s just a fact of
    life … I lost count of how many networks do original programming
    these days … I wish we could get more respect for the good work
    that we do.”

    “The Walking Dead is an anomaly,” he added, and pointed out
    that if many cable hits “did the [same] ratings in our world,
    they’d be cancelled.” Greenblatt cited HBO’s modestly rated
    Girls as an example of a cable show that wouldn’t survive broadcast

    “If we could put on one show a year, it would be the best show
    you ever saw,” he said.

    Before taking questions from reporters, Greenblatt made headlines
    announcing some promising-sounding limited series (including a
    Rosemary’s Baby reboot and a Hillary Clinton miniseries). Then the
    executive unveiled statistics showing NBC’s ratings have actually
    been flat compared to rival broadcasters, and said the network was
    coming off a “year of improvement.” NBC had a terrific
    turn-around in the ratings last fall, winning November sweeps, but
    then face-planted in mid-season.

    “It’s our most competitive year in the last nine years,”
    Greenblatt said. “At this point in our business, flat is the new
    up. Network television declined 4 to 7 percent … in that
    environment I think holding your position is a good thing … the
    other nets are all down.”

    Except the flat claim seemed to hinge on using the whole year to
    calculate ratings – including summer – rather than the broadcast
    season valued by advertisers for its higher viewing levels. All
    networks are down among adults 18-49 when using the broadcast season,
    with CBS down the least – 3 percent – followed by NBC, down 4 percent
    (though that usual measurement also includes sporting events such as
    CBS’ coverage of the Super Bowl, which helped boost NBC the
    previous year – exclude sports and NBC was actually up a tad).
    Greenblatt called the broadcast season an arbitrary set of dates and
    noted “we try to look at the whole year.”

    The executive was also asked about the network’s unsuccessful
    new comedies last season. “Comedy is frustrating,” Greenblatt
    said. “Nobody is more disappointed about New Normal and Go On not
    returning to the schedule [than we are].”

    Talking specifically about last season’s Ryan Murphy sitcom The
    New Normal, about a gay couple adopting their first child, Greenblatt
    said the comedy may have been “slightly ahead of its time” given
    the “focus of the show.” “I wouldn’t say it didn’t work
    because it has gay characters,” he said, noting the success of Will
    & Grace. “We think the country is moving in the right direction
    and the Supreme Court is doing the right thing … we have no

    On the subject of Parenthood, which is moving to Thursday nights
    this fall, Greenblatt called it “one of the best shows on
    television,” yet expressed disappointment at its lack of Emmy
    nominations. “It doesn’t get the Emmy nominations; it doesn’t
    get the accolades; I wish it had more of that acclaim. It really had
    a great season this past year.”

    The executive also defended its plan to switch The Tonight Show
    host from top-rated Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon early next year. “We
    know the late-night time-period declines every year also,”
    Greenblatt said. “We wanted to make a transition when the time
    period was really strong to give Jimmy Fallon the best chance of

    Alijah Purdy
    May 22nd, 2011

    The only thing I have to say about the article is what he said about The New Normal. The New Normal didn’t succeed not because it “was ahead of it’s time” (that is COMPLETE bullshit!), but because the writing and the acting SUCKED!!!! (Especially that GOD-AWFUL NeNe Leakes).

    ReplyCopy URL
    Nov 15th, 2011

    Les Moonves, president of CBS and Showtime, responds, via Deadline.com:

    NBC topper Bob Greenblatt raised a few eyebrows with his comments during NBC’s executive session on Saturday that “at this point in our business, flat is the new up” in broadcast ratings and that “broadcast now is the bastard child” of television as he suggested that broadcast series don’t get the respect they deserve. “I don’t necessarily agree with (the ‘flat is the new up’ assessment), but every network has their own point of view about it,” CBS Corp. CEO said at TCA today. “We’re confident we’re going to be up this year. We were up last year. Yes, we had the Super Bowl, but I don’t necessarily agree with that statement. I also don’t think we’re the bastard child of the entertainment business.”

    He later did list arguments in support of Greenblatt’s complaint that network shows don’t get much respect. “I know what he meant. He meant when it comes to the Emmys, the networks don’t get respect in terms of — look, they’re competing against some phenomenal programs. It’s hard to put The Good Wifeup against Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones probably cost three time as much and takes three times as long to shoot. And it’s a brilliant good show. I love it as much as anybody. But there are some terrific shows on network that do get passed over, and the competition from cable in terms of that has become pretty extreme. And so the cable shows get a lot more attention for a lot fewer numbers. That’s okay. Once again, as I said, I’m really proud to be the home of NCIS, but also the home of Homeland and Ray Donovan and Dexter. (CBS Corp. owns both CBS and Showtime.) There are different strokes for different folks, and I think what Bob’s point was that… a show like Parenthood, which also is a wonderful show that doesn’t maybe get the recognition that he feels it deserves. I think that’s what that meant.” 

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